SIEMENS Mobility and wagon leasing and logistics company VTG Rail Europe have signed a contract to test a brake monitoring system (BMS) that the two companies have designed in collaborative research and testing since 2016.

The two companies believe the system has widespread potential for use across Europe due to the potential time and cost savings it offers for rail freight operators by eliminating time-consuming manual processes and improving the robustness of existing safety checks.

The BMS system is designed to automate freight train brake testing in order to prove that the braking system is safe and operational. Such tests are mandated by operating rules in European countries whenever the train changes locomotives or train drivers and in some cases after long periods without moving. Traditional brake tests can involve train crew or ground staff in terminals to physically check every wagon, a time-consuming process.

The BMS system provides train crew with status data that is visible on both sides of the wagon, with this data automatically reported to the system wirelessly via GSM, which displays the status of every wagon in the train on a screen in the locomotive. The BMS is designed to improve overall safety as it offers a detailed visualisation of incorrect settings, manual hand brakes that are incorrectly applied and other problems with wagon components. This information is available for terminal or yard staff to access when initially marshalling trains.

Two rakes of VTG intermodal wagons have been equipped with the BMS system and it has been in regular use since November 2020.